Editor's note: This article originally appeared on the Marketo blog.
Effective lead nurturing today depends on making sure your message gets absorbed by buyers as they are considering their options. That means you need to develop a direct relationship with each individual. You can do that by making sure you are focusing on engagement with each of your nurture touches.
Where batch-and-blast campaigns feel like shouting, engaging nurture campaigns can feel more like a natural conversation. That's because nurturing should attempt to genuinely connect prospects and customers with a company by "engaging" them in a dialogue, with the goal of eliciting a positive emotional connection. The more frequently and consistently you can connect with a prospective buyer on an emotional level, the stronger and more deeply that person becomes involved with your brand. To find out more about engaging leads and customers, download our ebook, "How To Choose the Right Solution To Nurture Leads and Customers."
Effective lead nurturing incorporates 4 key elements:
1) Relevance. Relevance should always be of primary concern to a marketer. If communications or content is not relevant, it will be ignored. Plus, it can be detrimental to your lead nurturing efforts if you send the wrong information at the wrong time to a prospect. For instance, if you send a price sheet to a prospect who isn't even close to making a buying decision, you might cut short any future interactions. In other words, you would create distance between the buyer and your company and lose the opportunity to convince that person of the value you deliver. When determining what content and messaging to send out, you need to listen and understand what is relevant to your buyers.
2) Communication must be two-way. No one likes to be yelled at (which is often what it feels like when marketers send out batch-and-blast messages). To engage a prospect or customer in dialogue, the communication must be two-way. People will be more open to hearing what you have to say if they know you are also listening - that's the true meaning of a conversation. To enable this, you need technology that can do more than just blast out messages. Specifically, you need to use a platform that can "listen" to what prospects are saying or doing so you can respond accordingly and engage them through dialogue.
However, listening is more easily said than done. Many marketers are engaging in silo channels based on what's easiest or on the technology available to them. For example, email is a no-brainer for most marketers and a primary form of communication. But it gets more difficult when it comes to integrating email communications with direct mail, teleprospecting, social, and other channels. You need a wholistic cross-channel view of how buyers are reacting to your campaigns and messages. It's the only way to create a meaningful, two-way conversation in your lead nurturing efforts.
3) Go beyond email. Today's buyers spend time in a variety of places, whether it's your website, their preferred social network, or even an in-person event. It's important to be able to engage them in any or all of these channels. If you don't, your competitors probably will.
Regardless of which channels you're engaging through, the key is to be social with all of your interactions. And remember, social is really about interacting, whether you're engaged in a dialogue or in an activity with someone. Social elements are interactive in nature. Consider a poll. You can ask a question relevant to a prospect, and by listening to the answer you gain more insight into that prospect's interests and needs. At the same time, social interaction enables you to share content with prospective buyers, while allowing them to share that content with their colleagues and peers. Social interactions inherently make it possible to expand the reach of a conversation.
4) Continue the conversation. The conversation shouldn't end once a prospect becomes a customer. Rather, it's just the start of a long-term relationship. Regardless of what the customer lifecycle looks like for your company, the conversation with your customers needs to continue and change over time as it relates to your objectives and goals, and those of your customers. For example, a brand new customer will be focused on product adoption, while a customer of 5 years will want to understand how to take advantage of additional products and features.
As the conversation continues, your organization can tap into numerous opportunities to generate more revenue through upsells and cross-sells, as well as to build loyalty that encourages referrals. To achieve those goals, you need to deliver content through lead nurturing and spark discussions in line with your customers' focus.
Dayna Rothman is Content Marketing Manager at Marketo. She runs the Marketo content initiatives and is the Managing Editor of the Marketo blog. She has extensive experience in content marketing, social media, marketing automation, and inbound marketing. To read her other blogs, click here.
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